CONTROVERSIAL plans to establish a company to run a swathe of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust services were due to go before trust bosses today.

A full business case for the plans to set up a “subsidiary organisation”, wholly owned by the trust, to run estates, facilities and procurement, is set to be presented to the trust’s board of directors.

If directors approve, the company would run services such as hospital porters, cleaners, ward catering and laundry.

But the plans face criticism from Keighley MP John Grogan, trade union UNISON and Lord Philip Hunt of Kings Heath, the opposition spokesman on health matters.

On Saturday, campaigners in Keighley, Ilkley and Shipley collected signatures for a petition opposing the proposals.

UNISON area organiser Michael Parkinson said: “As Mr Grogan has warned, this plan will lead to lower wages and poor conditions for new staff, and the public don’t want to see that happen.

“They know it’ll drive service standards down for patients as people are driven away from service by wages they cannot survive on.

“We intend to present our petition to trust board members on October 25, the day they meet to decide whether to press ahead with this disastrous plan.”

Mr Grogan said: “Given the volatile political situation in the UK at the moment, I think it would be prudent for the board to pause the idea of setting up a subsidiary board.

“From my discussions with Labour’s shadow health ministers, they’d not look favourably on this idea, which will involve a lot of additional and unnecessary expense in the costs associated with setting up and servicing an additional set of board directors.”

He added that he was surprised the trust board will discuss the proposals behind closed doors, instead of at a public meeting.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust’s spokesman said: “The board will be considering the business case in private session because of the commercially sensitive nature of the information in it.”

The trust has previously argued that establishing a separate company to run a range of services would enable them to work together more efficiently, run their own budgets, make their own decisions and bid for other contracts, “while keeping them in the Airedale family”.